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Migrant populations at increased risk of food insecurity Migrant populations at increased risk of food insecurity  (AFP or licensors)

Covid-19: Migrant populations at increased risk of food insecurity

A UN report highlights the link between conflict, hunger, migration and displacement – all exacerbated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The UN calls on the international community to urgently support people made vulnerable in hunger hotspots around the world.

By Vatican News staff writer

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are urging the global community to increase humanitarian support for vulnerable people, particularly those affected by the wide-ranging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement on Tuesday, Executive Director of WFP, David Beasley, highlighted that the socio-economic impact of the pandemic is more devastating than the disease itself. 

Many people, Beasley noted “in low-and middle-income countries, who a few months ago were poor but just about getting by, now find their livelihoods have been destroyed.” Besides, remittances sent to families from workers abroad have also dried up resulting in increased hunger rates around the world.

The UN agencies reiterate their concern for vulnerable people based on findings from a report released on Monday titled: “Populations at risk: Implications of Covid-19 for hunger, migration and displacement.” The report assessed the pandemic’s effects on food security in migration and hunger hotspots in the world, revealing links between these, particularly when combined with conflict which is a major factor in human displacement.

Far-reaching impacts of Covid-19

The WFP and IOM noted that as many countries around the world put in measures and restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the resulting disruptions which include limitations to movement and reduced opportunities to work and earn a living have strained the ability of migrant and displaced persons to afford food and other needs.

IOM Director-General, António Vitorino, pointed out that the pandemic's effect on health and human mobility “threatens to roll back global commitments, including for the Global Compact on Migration.” It also hinders ongoing efforts to support those in need.

Displacement and hunger linked

According to the report, nine out of ten of the world’s worst food crises are in places with the largest number of internally displaced persons. Meanwhile, the majority of displaced persons are in countries affected by acute food insecurity and malnutrition.

Particularly affected by this close link between food insecurity and displacement are migrant workers, especially those working in the temporary or informal sector. Many, the UN agencies note, “will not only be pushed to return home but will also cause at least a temporary drop in remittances” which provide for around 800 million of the world’s population – a number which represents one in every nine persons.

At the same time, disruptions to agricultural work could affect the processing and distribution of food which could in turn affect availability and affordability on local and regional levels.

Appeal to the international community

Highlighting that migrants also contribute positively to society, the UN agencies call on the international community to promote their inclusion in social protection systems. 

WFP and IOM also outlined priority actions which include ensuring access to humanitarian assistance for migrants in vulnerable situations, providing support for the displaced and their host communities, facilitating remittance flow, securing access to critical services and critical information for displaced populations.

11 November 2020, 11:07